Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 14, 1963
NUMBER 28, PAGE 4,13c

The Way Out


Each year in the United States more than 25,000 people commit suicide. For every one who is successful (a strange use of that word!) in the attempt to take his life there are eight others who try but fail. The overwhelming majority of these people, both the successful suicide and the would-be suicides, are white and Protestant. But percentage-wise the Jewish people are far out in front. Only a handful of Negroes ever take their own lives. Why this is so may be debatable. It may be that the Negroes peculiar psychology gives him protection from this danger; perhaps the very fact that he is of a "have-not" group gives him grounds for hope that his lot will eventually be bettered. We can only speculate, for we do not have the answers.

Most suicides, contrary to what one might suppose, occur on bright sunshiny days rather than on dark and gloomy days. Why? We can only guess — the most plausible guess being that the person on the verge of self-destruction may reason within himself on a dark and gloomy day, telling himself that life will be better and more cheerful on a beautiful day. And when the beautiful day comes and life is NOT better, he realizes that a change in the weather is no solution to his problem, so decides to "end it all."

One thing seems fairly obvious: suicides occur far more often among the "haves" than among the "have-nots." The relatively high incidence in such cases among white Protestants and among Jews would indicate this. This suggests that the suicide is more often than not one who "has gotten out of life what he wants, only then to find that he no longer wants life." His own experience has taught him the old, old truth, preached for so many centuries from so many pulpits (and received with a shrug of the shoulders and obvious disbelief by the vast majority of those in the pews) that success, fame, wealth, and the rewards of this life are not enough in themselves to make life desirable. He has achieved the things by which to live, only to find that there is no cause FOR which to live!

As atheism increases and secularism becomes ever more consuming of a man's time and thought and energy, we would opine that cases of self-destruction will increase rather than decrease. Without the solid and glorious affirmations of the Christian faith — a personal God, a loving Savior, the blessed hope of immortality — it might well be argued that Shakespeare's Hamlet had a point well taken when he argued with himself:

"To be, or not to be; that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep:

No more: and by a sleep to say we end The heartache and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation Devoutly to be wished....

Men who are wholly committed to Christ will find the idea of self-destruction so incredible as to be simply incomprehensible. No matter what the outward circumstances of the Christian's life, he has a fierce and unyielding determination to use his time and his strength (and his allotted years) to the very utmost in the service of his Master. Indeed, so far as he is concerned this earthly life pretty well lost all power either to make him happy or to make him sad when he dedicated his life to Christ. Truly, "Whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it." (Man. 16:25) The disciple of Christ has already severed his life from the affairs and concerns of the world whether they be wealth and honor, friends and family, or health and earthly happiness. He has a joy in his heart, a radiance in his life, a glory in his soul that transcends earthly things, and in comparison with which the rewards and happiness of earthly things pale into insignificance.

No matter how solidly grounded a man may be in his understanding of the truth; no matter how clearly he grasps the simple gospel of Christ and its basic principles, he has still "missed the boat" so far as Christianity is concerned until and unless he COMMITS himself to these principles. For Christianity is not simply understanding about Christ, it is living with Christ; it is not going to church, reading the Bible, and listening to sermons. It is being so totally committed in heart and soul and life, that the words of the great apostle to the Gentiles find an exact echo in your own being: "And it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me." (Gal. 2:20)